Monday, 18 October 2010

The Scottish experience

Following the commencement of the debate about the future of our education system it is relevant to look at the attempt to move the system on in Scotland.  It highlights the difficulty of the half-way house of sharing campuses.  They have faced Church opposition as the process developed.  Also experiences of a shared campus seem to question if they are genuinely shared at all:

Lauren Morris, 18, from Midlothian, attended St David's Roman Catholic School when it formed Scotland's first shared campus with a non-denominational secondary, Dalkeith High, in 2004. Morris believes the strict segregation of the two schools by teachers prevented any kind of integration between the pupils.

She says: "We shared a dinner hall and some of us had friends at Dalkeith High, but we weren't even allowed to go over and say hello to them or we'd get into trouble. I think teachers used the excuse that we'd fight to separate us, but they should have helped us all integrate and get along.

"The pupils wanted to integrate but the teachers wouldn't listen. It got to the point where you would sneak across the dinner hall to the other side just to talk to your Dalkeith High pals. Even in the playground, we'd take off our school jumpers and go across to their side of the playground. I wasn't scared of the teachers, I just wanted to talk to my friends.

"The teachers used to have walkie-talkies and if they saw a pupil in a different side of the playground they'd radio each other and take that pupil back to their own side.

"One time there was a Dalkeith pupil in front of me as we were walking along the corridor and a teacher stopped him and said where are you going?' He said he was going to his class, and this teacher said get back to your own side, you're not one of us, get back to your own school'. She'd never say you're not one of our pupils', it was always you're not one of us'.

"It was quite confusing for me because I was Protestant at a Catholic school and had been taught that being a Catholic meant you treat everyone as one. Even though you could tell no-one really cared if you were Catholic or Protestant, they'd still call us Fenians', and folk from our school would be shouting Proddies'."

There have also been other practical challenges:

"Look at the case of Broomhouse Primary school and St Josephs RC school, ultra-modern buildings on the same campus but with different entrances and the sole joint facility shared on a regular basis being the dining room. The children don't even play together at break...Added to this unhappy scenario is another serious cause for conflict. The Broomhouse school is larger than St Joseph's but now has a much smaller school roll...Also, St Joseph's is seen as offering a first-class education and so its school roll has swollen...St Joseph's has a simple solution - swap buildings. But this proposal has been met with indignation by Broomhouse parents. The Broomhouse Parents Council has suggested St Joseph's uses two surplus classrooms, but this has been turned down for being too far away from St Joseph's to feel part of the school. The corridors and classrooms would have to be blessed by a priest, iconography would need to be installed and the Catholic children would run a gauntlet of insults when walking through the non-denominational school."

In the same area the situation is comparable at secondary level:

"It will be little better when these children move on to secondary education. Most will either go to Forrester High School or St Augustine's RC High School, two schools in brand new buildings, and, like the primary schools, sharing a campus. Like their primary feeder schools, they share only one facility, but here it is a swimming pool."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Liverpool has a much better experience of and model for shared church schools than Scotland.

Your critique of the Scottish model is entirely justified.